As pet parents, we like to think that we are providing a healthy, happy life for our dogs. But there is a lot more that goes into raising a healthy pup. And sometimes, our busy lifestyles cause us to overlook some simple measures that could help to extend the lifespan of our canines. Here are 5 ways you may be shortening your dog’s life.
1. Not Providing Daily Exercise
Just because your pet played hard at the dog park on Monday doesn’t mean that you can forgo giving him any exercise until Thursday. Exercise not only helps to keep the weight off, it also provides mental stimulation for your pup. Keeping up your pet’s fitness routine gives him a healthy way to expel energy.
Find an activity you and your dog both enjoy and work it into your daily routine. As an added bonus, people who exercise with their pets tend to lose more weight themselves; it’s a win-win! And if you don’t have time to drive to the dog park five days a week, mix up your routine. Take your dog on walks around the block, toss the ball in the backyard, or play a game of hide-and-seek in your house.
2. Exposing Your Dog To Second-Hand Smoke
Just like humans, canine lungs are not equipped to handle smoke being blown at them all day. Second-hand smoke can be extremely detrimental to pets, causing all sorts of ailments, such as an increased cancer risk and harmful respiratory issues.
Obviously the ideal way to tackle this situation is to abstain from smoking yourself. But if the habit is important to your lifestyle, then it’s a good idea to make sure that you do it away from your dog. Keep your dog in the house while you go outside on the patio to have a puff.
3. Forgetting About Heartworm And Flea And Tick Prevention
These measures are just as important as remembering to keep up with your dog’s vaccinations. Flea, heartworm, and tick control is critical. These tiny critters spread diseases, some of which are life threatening. Fortunately there are many prevention options available from your veterinarian—from collars and topical spot-ons to oral medications.
Pet parents should purchase only veterinary approved products and to follow the recommended dosage guidelines. Dog owners should also set reminders in their calendars for when their dogs are due for their next dose of preventive treatment.
4. Pushing Certain Breeds Too Hard
Small and toy dog breeds, as well as brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, have very different exercise requirements than other types of dogs. For instance, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, and Boxer types should not be exercised in extreme heat, as it can be life threatening to them.
Make sure to speak to your veterinarian about how much and what type of exercise is best for your breed. And if you feel like your dog is trying to tell you that you are overdoing his workout, listen to him. Symptoms such as excessive panting, dropping to the ground in the middle of a workout, or lethargic (weak and tired) tendencies mean that you should stop and let your dog rest immediately.
5. Feeding Your Dog Table Scraps
In addition to adding extra (and unnecessary) calories to your dog’s diet, pet parents risk inducing pancreatitis by feeding their dog fatty table scraps. Many foods that humans consume are extremely high in fats and sugars compared to what our pets should be exposed to. In addition, certain human foods—including garlic and chocolate—can be toxic to pets if consumed.
If you have a hard time saying no to those pleading eyes, offer your dog a healthy treat like baby carrots or apple slices. If your dog begs at the table, feed him his meal in another room while the family eats dinner to cut down on under-the-table handouts. Pet parents should also take a moment to familiarize themselves with what foods are considered dangerous for dogs.